Brisbane’s oldest lane dates from convict days when the block it cuts through on the Queens St side was the site of the Prisoner’s Cells and Barracks and the Superintendent of Convicts residence. When four cottages were built on the Adelaide St side the laneway was built for access to them.
Burnett Lane – Brisbane’s oldest laneway, named after our first colonial surveyor, started life as a prison ‘exercise’ yard in the dark days of the penal colony and was the grim scene of floggings and hangings. After the penal colony closed and the city buildings replaced the gaol, it was a tradesman’s entrance to Brisbane’s first bookshop (amongst other things).
The lane takes its name from Brisbane’s first surveyor James Burnett, who died at 39 and is now profiled on the rear wall of one of the Queen St buildings. Archaeologists have pinpointed the paved Burnett Lane as having been built over the Prisoner’s Barracks Yard, where the settlement’s first hanging occurred in 1830.
In recent years it has experienced a council makeover with all sorts of interesting historical facts scrawled on its walls, luminous artworks on the ground and a tiny smattering of uber cool restaurants, cafes and bars: Super Whatnot, Survey Co, German Sausage Hut Imbuss, Felix Espresso, and across the Albert St Mall, the basement Brew Café Wine Bar. It is also the rear entrance to the southern hemisphere’s biggest second-hand vinyl store the Record Exchange and Burnett Lane’s resident Galleria. The only downside is that by day there’s an ongoing battle between pedestrians and delivery trucks (which will sadly continue as long as there are no set restricted delivery hours outside of which pedestrians can enjoy free range access).